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What is Forensic Facial Reconstruction?

A facial reconstruction by Joe Mullins.
A facial reconstruction by Joe Mullins.

You know The Art League offers classes in painting, drawing, ceramics, fiber arts, sculpture, jewelry, and every other medium under the sun.

Did you know there’s also a class in crime-solving?

Forensic artist Joe Mullins teaches “Mystery Solved: Facial Reconstruction” evenings at The Art League. Students start with only a cast skull, and over seven weeks, they reconstruct a mystery face bit by bit.

How does it work?

Like lots of other classes at The Art League, achieving a proper likeness starts with anatomy. In this case, that means building up layers of muscle and tissue on top of the cast skull, like in the video above. Add in details using other information — age, sex, ancestry — and a picture begins to emerge.

Why do we do it?

Forensic facial reconstruction is useful for solving mysteries both ancient and modern. For his work as a Forensic Imaging Specialist at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, Mullins helps identify unknown crime victims. (See this New York Times article about how his New York workshop created faces to match to murder victims.) He’s also reconstructed a 2,500-year-old mummy’s face.

“Mystery Solved: Facial Reconstruction” is offered in the Fall, Winter, and Spring.

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Visit our homepage for more information about our classes, exhibits, and events in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia.

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Did you know: The Art League's Art Camp is the longest running visual arts camp in the area! We've been here for more than 30 years! While sadly we can't find any photos from the '80s (please let us know if you have any lying around), let's take a look back at the last several years of burgeoning kid artists and eight years of fun at Art Camp!

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